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Topic: Worship (05/03/04)
TITLE: HOW I DO MISS THAT OLD “AMEN CORNER”
By James Snyder
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Looking back on my life, many things have found their way into the old “I miss that one” bag. If I only knew what I would miss when I grew up, I might have paid more attention to certain things.
Of the many things I surely miss, the old “Amen Corner” in our country church is the biggest. It saddens me to think a whole generation has grown up not knowing the “Amen Corner” or seeing one in action.
For those who have no idea of what an “Amen Corner” is, let me explain briefly. And forgive me if I get a little sentimental here.
Of course, nobody knows where they sent my mental, but I haven’t really missed it yet.
Most old-fashioned country churches of another generation had what some referred to as the “Amen Corner” where the deacons or elders (depending on the tradition of the church) usually sat, overseeing the worship service.
The general purpose lay, of course, in supporting the minister in his awesome task of preaching the Word. They made sure he kept on target, and enthusiastically encouraged him with some shouts.
In my home church, the “Amen Corner” was not so much a place as an attitude.
I remember several people in our congregation served our church well in this auspicious occupation, and took their duties seriously. At the time I did not understand the contribution they made to the worship service.
The one that sticks out in my memory is old Brother Clarence. I can’t remember his last name, but I do remember him being not only a little deaf, but a little daft as well, if you know what I mean.
Brother Clarence ruled the roost when it came to the “Amen Corner.” He would get what he called a “shouting spell.”
These alleged “shouting spells” were unpredictable, but if you made book on every other minute you would win the prize.
Whenever something blessed him in the service or with something the preacher said, he would stand and pierce the sanctuary with shouts of “Amen,” or “Praise the Lord,” or “Hallelujah.” Once in while he would shout “Preach it, Brother.”
Someone once asked him why he shouted so much. He laughed and replied, “Brother, when I’m shoutin’ I’m not a doubtin’.”
I don’t think Brother Clarence ever had a “doubtin” day in his entire life.
I never knew how much his shouting spells meant to me until recently. For some reason many people shout their voices off at some ball game, but when it comes to religion, they’re as quiet as a church mouse with laryngitis.
One Easter Sunday, dear old Brother Clarence became confused when he came to church. Back then, nobody heard of Alzheimer’s, people simply thought Brother Clarence daffy.
He often got lost, but this was the first time he got lost coming to church. Instead of turning left, he turned right into the prestigious Presbyterian Church across the street from our church.
Unfortunately for the Presbyterians, Easter Sunday was Brother Clarence’s favorite Sunday of the whole year. He literally lived for Easter Sunday and was more prone to Shouting Spells than any other time of the year.
He simply loved the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Brother Clarence remained quiet all through the Easter service. Probably the unfamiliar surroundings confused him a little, a condition not unknown to him at the time.
All went well, and then the Presbyterian minister began his sermon. A sermon on the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, a theme Clarence reveled in. It proved more than Clarence could handle.
Suddenly, like a mighty, rushing wind, Brother Clarence got blessed and had one of his Shouting Spells. He jumped up from his pew and shouted at the top of his lungs, “Praise the Lord. Glory hallelujah.”
For the first time in their long history, the Elm Street Presbyterian Church suspended their firm grip on the sovereignty of God and ruled Brother Clarence out of order and called for the men in white coats.
I’m sure those good Presbyterians never saw, or heard, the likes of dear old Brother Clarence before – or since.
When the paramedics arrived, Brother Clarence was still in his “shoutin’” mode and they quickly grabbed him, almost jerking him out of his patent leather shoes, rushing him to the hospital.
The next day our pastor spent four hours trying to convince the doctors of Clarence’s sanity. “He’s just a wee bit happy in his religion,” the pastor explained.
Of course, the doctors had never really seen a “happy Christian” before and did not know what to make of Clarence.
Clarence taught me many things, but the most important thing was in the area of praising the Lord. I don’t shout like Clarence did. Perhaps that’s my fault. Maybe I’m missing some blessing in my life.
I can’t say for sure, but I would not doubt it a bit if Clarence’s favorite verse of scripture was, “Bless the Lord, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless His holy name.” (Psalms 103:1 KJV)
With so much to shout about these days, I vote we restore the “Amen Corner” in our churches. I just don’t want the voting to take place here in Florida.